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Unruly passenger forces New York-bound plane to divert to Memphis

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A United Airlines flight to New York from Houston was forced to make an emergency stop in Memphis when an unruly passenger got into a physical skirmish with the crew, officials said on Monday.

Flight 1435 was en route from Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport to New York’s LaGuardia Airport on Saturday evening when a “disruptive” passenger sat in a jump seat used by the crew and strapped himself in, a Transportation Security Administration official said.

The man refused to return to his own seat and got into a verbal and physical altercation with flight attendants, the official said.  

The disruption forced the plane to land at Memphis International Airport, where the passenger was arrested, the FBI in Memphis said. It was unclear what charges he would face.

At no point did the passenger attempt to rush the cockpit or interfere with the piloting of the plane, FBI and TSA officials said.

The flight resumed its journey, landing at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey early on Sunday due to hour restrictions for takeoff and landing at LaGuardia.

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Peter Cooney)

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